You know, I love everything that we get to talk about today, but this might be my favorite segment. Um, my favorites change a lot, but but this is definitely one of my many favorites. Um, So, um, many of you have, uh, have a big story to tell, and many of you have been holding onto it a long time. And when that happens, you sort of it spills out all over the place. So what do you need when you have something spilling out all over the place? Something to put it in exactly. A container. Andi want to add that this particular concept is is valuable whether we're talking about ah, 350 page memoir or a 1700 word personal essay. But I'm gonna give you a strong recommendation that before you launch into writing, your 350 were page memoir. You write some short personal essays. Work on that form first. Ah, lot of people. Um, a lot of a lot of students of mine and people in this audience and probably at home speak to me about having collections of essays, and they want to publish a collection of ...
essays and I and I always want to say to them, Whoa, hold on a minute before you talk about ah, collection of essays. Let's talk about before you talk about linking up the essays in your collection of essays. Let's talk about one essay so we're going to begin there. We're gonna We're going to look at how you might take your big life experience and contain it in a smaller story. And I want to begin by it explaining to you the concept of the container. Um, you have a big idea, A big story. Um, and you find a small story that illuminates it. Ah, story that that allows you to explore the big idea. But with with a small particular scene, um, and something that's that's manageable in perhaps limited space. Which is why I want to talk about a short personal essay first. And it's also ah, great way to build your chops for the longer book. Um, so what is a container? Here's some exit. Big ideas, small containers. The big idea. I miss my mother. The container. This is an essay that I published one time as I've already mentioned you have written about my mother and my mother's death in many, many different ways. This particular essay. After her death, I had 30 jars of my mother's home made chutney. They dwindled down toe one. That's my idea of a high drama high tension event on Lee. One chutney left, but I hope that I wrote it in such a way that it did feel like high drama. And on Did. You don't even know what happened with that final jar of chutney. But it wasn't good. Okay, the idea. My five year old daughter died. This was my friend and hood the container. How do you begin to talk about the death of a five year old by telling about we both loved the Beatles after she died? I couldn't listen to them anymore. And that's a modern love. You can find it online by an hood. The idea. Just when I figured out what it meant to be part of a couple, my husband died. This is me again. Big global idea. Big abstract concept. What it meant to be a part of a couple. The container. The summer we spent riding a motorcycle together on the back roads of New Hampshire on. That was a New York Times travel article that I published last summer. The idea. It's not easy. This is me to This was me many years ago. Um, it's not easy finding a good man when you're single in your forties. Many years ago, the container I set out to have a date with Steve Martin on. That was actually one of those NPR little, all things considered essays. Um, I kept on hoping that Steve Martin was gonna hear it, but he never did. And then I decided I didn't want him anyway, okay?
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Full-length class: Writing Your Story with Joyce Maynard
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Everyone’s got a story to tell. Some are funny. Some are inspiring. Others are tragic. But no matter how compelling your story might seem, it won’t resonate with readers unless you’re able to effectively translate your concept onto the page.
Celebrated journalist, novelist, and memoirist Joyce Maynard will give you the tools you need to transform your brilliant idea into an absorbing memoir that readers won’t be able to put down.
Maynard will begin by walking you through the process of identifying your story and how best to tell it. She’ll then help you develop your story through language, story structure, dramatic tension, dialogue, description, and editing. Finally, she’ll address the challenges of the writing life, such as how to create a productive practice, design a comfortable writing space, deal with rejection, and find an audience.
In this class, you’ll learn how to:
- Understand the difference between telling what happened and exploring your journey.
- Figure out what to include in your story and what to cut out.
- Decide on a point of view, a point of entry, and a structure.
- Get over your fears of revealing embarrassing truths about yourself.
- Stop worrying about being judged.
- Deal with loneliness and find your tribe.
- Develop the arc of a sentence, a paragraph, and a story.
- Listen to the sound and rhythm of your sentences.